Friends of the Libraries: Take Getty leader's word on arts' importance

In an article headlined "Why arts and humanities matter" (Los Angeles Times, June 20) James Cuno, chief executive and president of the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles, states that without citizens who can read, write and analyze, society falters and competitiveness suffers. He says that as students try to get into fields that offer higher pay — science, technology, engineering and math — they often neglect taking arts and humanities classes.

He declares that institutions have responded by cutting budgets in those classes and argues that we should be investing more funds, not less, into these subjects. "Studying the humanities strengthens the ability to communicate and work with others... Without artists, sociologists, English majors and political theorists — along with engineers and scientists — to envision what the future looks like, that exciting potential will never be realized." Cuno says that most employers want schools to place more emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving as well as written and oral communication.

Public libraries are a perfect place to strengthen these skills, beginning with toddler storytime, summer reading programs, book discussion groups, tutoring, literacy studies, study groups and the varied subject matter, in fiction and nonfiction, to be found on the shelves and online.

So how do we make sure that our libraries can support strengthening these skills? For one thing, we make them large enough to do the job. And of course, you know that I am on my soapbox again, trying to encourage all of you to push for library expansion in Costa Mesa. To get you thinking about it, the Costa Mesa Library Foundation has asked Orange Coast College architecture students to construct drawings for proposed library expansion projects. They should soon be on the foundation's website at

While you are waiting to look at these library expansions, think about what you want in your library. Some of these things will be discussed at the American Library Assn. in Chicago. Topics I am aware of are: collaborative spaces, children/teen spaces, early literacy and reading engagement, marketing your library, technology and social media. Other topics are the increasing demand for computers, electric power access for mobile devices, children's and teens' programming and the use of the library as a "third space" for patrons.

On Nov. 6, Portland, Oregon voters passed a ballot measure creating the Arts Education and Access Income Tax (called the Arts Tax). All adult Portland residents are required to pay a $35 income tax unless they are exempt. This new income tax will fund Portland school teachers and art-focused nonprofit organizations in Portland. The tax is due every year on April 15. Apparently, people are happy with this arrangement. I suggest this might be a way to help pay for and operate a new library in Costa Mesa. Send your comments to


At our libraries

Word is that the Costa Mesa/Donald Dungan Library will open on or soon after July 15. I should at least be able to tell you in two weeks. And remember that the Costa Mesa Technology Library is now at 2263 Fairview Road.

The action this time is at the Mesa Verde Library, where July 1 is the official first day of the Summer Reading Program. The next day, children will be able to create chalk art along the library walkway from 1 to 2 p.m. On July 3 and 10, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., it is Lego Wednesday. Another program offered on July 10 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. is "Learning to Draw Manga" with artist Larissa Marantz. All ages are welcome. The program is free. Later that evening, the Stuffed Animal Sleepover is scheduled from 7 to 8 p.m. Children are encouraged to bring a stuffed animal to join them as they listen to a story with Miss Mary-Pat. They can leave their stuffed animal in the library for a sleepover and pick up the animal the next day with prizes and goodies! The program will be held under the library tree.

And on July 9 from 1 to 2 p.m., the Wild Wonders Animal Show with its exotic animals from around the world will entertain and educate those in attendance. For more information on all these programs, call the library at (714) 546-5274.

MARY ELLEN GODDARD produced this column on behalf of the Friends of Costa Mesa Libraries, the Costa Mesa Library Foundation and the three Costa Mesa branches of the OC Public Libraries.

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